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The cost of summer music festivals

“My girlfriend and I spend $4000 - $5000 on the music fest circuit each summer.”

by Vanmala Subramaniam
Jul 19 2017, 2:03pm

Summer can be expensive business, if you’re not careful. The temptation to spend hours-on-end outdoors, whether it’s grabbing an after-work drink, hopping from one new patio to another, or going away for the weekend is costly, to say the least.

And then you have the concert and festival circuit — every summer, the biggest names in the music business descend upon major North American and European cities in the name of entertainment (and to rake in millions of dollars at our expense).

In Toronto alone, there are at least 40 music festivals in the four-month period between May and September. Quite a few of these festivals, like Dreams, VELD and Drake’s OVO Fest attract festival-goers from across the country and south of the border, many of whom are willing to splurge thousands of dollars for the festival experience — from tickets and accommodation, to booze and after-parties.

VICE Money made a quick pit stop at the Bud Light Dreams Festival (formerly known as Digital Dreams), a two-day electronic music fest held at the shores of Lake Ontario to get a sense of just how much avid festival-goers spend on the festival circuit, in any given summer.

Zach; Burlington, Ontario

“My girlfriend and I go to about six to seven festivals every year, mostly in Toronto and Montreal. I think we spend $4000 – $5000 the entire summer on festivals. We just love heavy dubstep and we don’t get a chance to hear that kind of music in Toronto often, so I guess it’s cheaper to come to a festival like Dreams than take a flight to the U.K. to see our favourite dubstep artists.”

The Rough Breakdown

Festival tickets: $1000

Alcohol: $250 per festival x 6 = $1500 per summer

Uber rides (Burlington-Toronto-Burlington): $100 x 5 = $500

Accommodation in Montreal: $300

Transport to Montreal via train: $300

Food: $400 – $600

TOTAL: $4000 – $4200

***

Daniel; Barrie, Ontario

“I try to go cheap when I do festivals. I do about three to four festivals, I don’t get VIP tickets, and all of them are in Toronto. My biggest costs are water and alcohol — it’s important to hydrate. I bring my own food to munch on, maybe I’ll grab a two-dollar hot dog from a stand outside the festival grounds. So I guess I try to not spend more than $1000 overall.”

The Rough Breakdown

Festival tickets: $400

Water: $100 – $150

Transport (Daniel crashes at his friend’s place in Toronto): $150

Alcohol and after parties: $300

TOTAL: $950 – $1000

***

Aaron, Brandon, Zack, Brad; Buffalo, New York

“We aren’t huge festival goers, but we like to come to maybe one or two to party. Usually we go to something nearby that we can drive to like Bunbury (in Ohio) or Dreams or Veld here in Toronto. It’s cheaper because there are four of us and we split the cost of everything… and we drink beer. So that’s cheap. So maybe we spend $500 per person overall.”

The Rough Breakdown

Festival tickets: $200

Transport: $80

Airbnb: $100

Alcohol/food: $200

TOTAL: $580/person

***

Mike; Toronto

“I don’t do Toronto festivals much anymore, I used to do them when I was younger. I go for the big ones now, last year I was at EDC in Vegas (Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas) and that alone cost me about $4000. But it was worth it. I would spend the money again.”

The Rough Breakdown

Return flight to Vegas: $800

EDC three-day VIP Pass: $880 (priced at USD$699)

Alcohol for three days, at $10/drink: $600

Accommodation at a hotel on the Strip: $800

Food and after parties: $1000

TOTAL: $4080

***

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